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How To Survive Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . How To Survive is more than just a solid zombie role-playing game, it's also one of the best games of the year. With its mix of Diablo-esque hack and slash and dual-stick shooter action, 505 Games' newest Xbox Live Arcade game is a real surprise. It has a deep crafting system and a world you can't help but want to explore. How To Survive rewrites the book on zombie RPGs! Rating: 85%
How To Survive
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  • A-
Like a pack of brain-eating zombies, How To Survive snuck up from behind and took me completely by surprise. This is one of those rare moments where I knew absolutely nothing about the game before pushing start. I hadn't seen a single screenshot or watched a highly-produced announcement trailer; I had no idea what to expect. Little did I know that 505 Games' newest entry in the crowded survival horror genre would end up being one of the most infectious games of the year.

Forget zombies, How To Survive has more in common with Frankenstein's monster. The developers have sewn together the strongest elements from a number of diverse games and genres, including Diablo III, Smash TV and even The Sims. Even the name, which refers to a how-to guide revealed throughout the game's story, feels like it's lifted straight from Zombieland. Thankfully there's no need for torches and pitchforks, because this stitched together Xbox Live Arcade game is actually good.

How To Survive (XBLA)

As the title suggests, How To Survive is a game based solely around surviving a zombie apocalypse. In this case, the outbreak is happening on a series of (mostly) deserted islands in the middle of the ocean. We take control of one of three characters -- Abby, Kenji and Jack -- who happen to wash up on this dangerous island cluster. Unsure how they got there, these survivors are forced to persist through grueling conditions and eventually find a way back to civilization. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done.

Life on a tropical island is more than tanning on the beach and battling zombie hordes, it's also about surviving the elements. Everyday life is a struggle, as players will need to hunt food, locate drinking water and create safe zones for sleeping. Keeping yourself fed, hydrated and well-rested is the key to making it out alive, but it can also be a major struggle to balance everything. And don't expect the zombies to make it easy on you, as the game constantly forces the player to risk their safety for much-needed food or water.

How To Survive (XBLA)

At first glance, How To Survive looks like a typical hack and slash Diablo-clone. But look closer, because this adventure game has more in common with Geometry Wars. Players can move around while simultaneously aiming in a different direction. You still have to pull the trigger (in this case the right bumper), but having 360 degree aiming affords the character a fighting chance against a diverse set of fast and slow zombies.

But just because the game controls like a dual-stick shooter, that doesn't mean you can play it like Smash TV. Surviving the zombie apocalypse requires a lot of smart planning. Sure, you can take on a bunch of zombies at once, but it won't take long before they've completely swarmed you and turned the innocent castaway into an afternoon snack. The idea is to play it safe and never get surrounded. Sometimes that means sneaking past large groups of walkers or taking them out with a stealthy bow and arrow. Running carelessly into unknown territory is a good way to commit suicide.

How To Survive (XBLA)

When the survivor is not battling zombies and hunting for food, they are scrounging the four islands for supplies. Crafting is a huge part of How To Survive, as it allows the player to create everything from armor to weapons to tasty meals. Nearly everything on the island can be sharpened, cut, bound, affixed and upgraded to create something even more useful. With blueprints scattered all over the islands, there are literally dozens of guns, axes, helmets, boomerangs and chainsaws to craft.

It won't take your castaway long to realize that they aren't alone. Not only are the four islands teaming with zombies, but the player will meet a number of human survivors. Each survivor has a mission they need completed, which often involves locating a specific item and returning it. The missions aren't very complicated, but they do give the player an excuse to search every inch of each island. Along the way they will unlock weapon upgrades that open up new areas to explore.
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